In July, NEA members from across the nation will once again assemble at the annual NEA Representative Assembly (RA) to plan out and prioritize the association’s activities over the next year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RA this year will be virtual for both active and retired delegates and feature a more limited agenda, but the important work of the union will move forward.
“Our members have not stopped their critical work educating and supporting our nation’s students and neither will their association,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García “The buildings may be closed but we are making sure we do everything we can to keep learning open for our nation’s students,” she added.
Putting the health of our members first, Eskelsen said “We cannot take the risk of educators becoming infected and spreading the virus to students, their families and colleagues, or their communities.”Throughout this crisis, public health experts and doctors have agreed that the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is for people to continue social distancing, along with massive testing, tracing, and social isolation among those who test positive for the virus. Given this reality, it is clear that groups as large as the RA—the world’s largest democratic deliberative body, with nearly 10,000 delegates annually— would not be safe to convene in July.
NEA leaders acknowledge that nothing can replicate the rigorous debate and excitement the RA is known for. They are also working to address the potential of uneven access to technology and reliable Wi-Fi and phone service so that it doesn't hamper delegates’ ability to participate in the limited agenda.
Despite the challenges, said Eskelsen García, “NEA will continue engaging our members and advocating in support of … stronger public schools for all of America’s students and communities."